GPA sixth grader Bergeline Hilaire placed first runner-up among middle school students in a citywide art competition.

Bergeline was honored in an awards ceremony recently at the Massachusetts College of Art for her entry in “The DREAM@50” art contest sponsored by the Boston Public Schools. The contest, held in cities across the country, marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Bergeline submitted an oil pastel entitled, “Opening the Doors to Freedom” (pictured below).

Bergeline’s prizes included art supplies and a $50 gift card to Michael’s. She is pictured above at the awards ceremony with art teacher Anna Tarshish, who was presented with a gift card for classroom art supplies.

Bergeline also wrote an essay about her artwork, which is excerpted here:

“The school I go to, Gardner Pilot Academy, is an inclusive school. No matter how different you are, you are included. I believe in rights for every person. I also think if you made a mistake, you should be forgiven. When I make art, I think of my gains and losses. For example, I’ve lost my dog and I have gained my baby sister. Making art helps me express feelings about it…

“At first I had a picture in my mind that showed Martin Luther King’s face on the American flag, a cross to symbolize God, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, and a door to show freedom. I decided to change my plan and focus on the door because it showed before and after the Civil Rights Movement more clearly than all of my other ideas together. It turned out the way I wanted it to. My piece means freedom and life. It has a cold winter night with snow everywhere and you can’t get in or out because you are trapped. In the center, there is a door that is golden where Martin Luther King let us through the door into the free, beautiful land. I made the door gold because there’s a poem by Emma Lazarus about the statue of liberty and the last line says, ‘I lift my lamp beside the golden door.’ I wanted to add other kinds of history to my piece. Outside of the golden door, I used only black and white to represent segregation between people. The way it’s drawn shows how everything was dark and depressing. People couldn’t find light – and the light couldn’t find them. Through the door, I used color to show all of the good that comes out of desegregation.”